Senate unanimously approves Torres bill improving irrigation-district elections

Today the Senate voted 47-0 to approved state Sen. Nikki Torres’s bill to modernize irrigation-district elections by permitting the use of mail-in ballots in place of exclusively polling places and absentee ballots.

Senate Bill 5709 deals with the election of directors for irrigation districts, which construct, operate and maintain the infrastructure that supplies water for Washington agriculture. There are about 100 irrigation districts throughout the state.

“This is a commonsense bill that has been well-worked in previous sessions,” said Torres, R-Pasco. “Irrigation districts are the oldest form of special purpose districts in Washington. The election procedures for irrigation districts reflect this and are antiquated, with even the wording of the current law being in desperate need of an update.

“Senate Bill 5709 removes some questionable terminology from the law, makes some changes to how someone becomes a candidate for the district board, and allows for the safe and secure use of mail-in ballots.”

The bill now moves to the House of Representatives for that chamber’s consideration.